Adding pieces is vital for Penguins’ new regime
YOUNGSTOWN — Size. It’s something Jerrod Calhoun has noticed his first full week with Youngstown State. The Penguins need to get bigger. They need to be more athletic.
Shooting the ball better from the team’s power forward and center spots wouldn’t hurt either.
Calhoun, the YSU men’s basketball coach, wants to keep pushing on his recruiting trips, which are Thursdays and Fridays. He practices his team Monday through Wednesday.
The 35-year-old mentor wants to enhance the Horizon League’s best returning backcourt and arguably the odds-on favorite for pre-season and post-season HL Player of the Year — Cameron Morse, who should thrive in an up-tempo offense predicated on 3-point attempts.
Morse, a 6-3 shooting guard, is complimented at the point by the hardest working player on the team — Francisco Santiago. Nobody, and I mean nobody, will outhustle this St. Ignatius graduate.
“You have an opportunity to coach one of the best two guards in the country. We got to get somebody underneath his wing, same thing with Francisco,” Calhoun said.
The last thing this coach wants is transfers. There’s no time for one-year sabbaticals under this regime. Calhoun and this team haven’t wavered. They want to win now. The recruiting battle in northeast Ohio is one they want to dominate.
He said Virginia, Washington D.C., and North Carolina are possibilities as well, but Ohio is YSU’s first option.
“We got to build this thing and be creative,” Calhoun said. “We have to add some impact guys on the front line, yes. We’ve got to build this team with some depth. Because the way we play, we play a lot of guys.”
Here are some Ohio options for YSU from the recruiting class of 2017 as listed on ohhoops.org:
The top unsigned pick is Lorain’s Naz Bohanon. The 6-foot-5 small forward is ranked 11th and has offers from Kent State and Brown.
According to the Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria, Bohanon, who was named Lorain County’s Mr. Basketball, carries a 3.93 GPA and will graduate with an associate degree from Lorain County Community College.
Heading down the list is 6-8, 205-pound Devonte Ross from Lakota West, 18 miles north of Cincinnati.
Those two seem likely picks if YSU is staying in Ohio.
Another option for the Penguins is bringing in a graduate transfer.
“Absolutely. For us, that’s a good way to do it,” Calhoun said. “Then it allows you to build your team with 2018s and 2019s.
“Also, we have a lot to offer on the front line. There’s not another coach in the country that can call. There’s a few maybe. Not a lot. There’s immediate playing time. We’re in a great conference. We have a great backcourt. There’s a lot of moving parts to it. I think it’s exciting for those fifth-year big kids.”
Here are a couple of feasible possibilities YSU may pursue:
Canisius’ Jermaine Crumpton, a 6-6 undersized power forward. He averaged 15.9 points for the Golden Griffins and was 57-of-133 from 3-point range.
Illinois State’s MiKyle McIntosh is a 6-7, 234-pound power forward who scored 12.5 points for the Redbirds and shot 34.5 percent from 3.
Michigan’s Duncan Robinson, a 6-8, 215 shooting guard. He shot 64 of 151 from 3 last season.
Just a couple of potential transfers, but there are players out there who can fit in YSU’s system. It’s a matter of finding them, making the Penguins program seem like a destination spot — making them feel like they’ll be part of the resurrection of good basketball at YSU.
YSU can officially sign players April 12. The NCAA late-signing period ends in mid-May, so it’s time for Calhoun and his staff to reign in some quality players in this new up-tempo scheme.
It won’t be easy. Recruiting never is.